My sister, her husband, and their two children live in Oklahoma. Over the last several months, my niece has begun receiving gender-affirming therapy from a licensed health care professional. These therapy sessions have been immensely valuable, providing my niece with the opportunity to ask questions, learn more about gender identity, and feel supported by those around her. She is lucky to be in a supportive family, at an equally supportive school – but she lives in a deeply conservative state.
Over the last several months, Oklahoma has joined a number of states targeting medically necessary health care for transgender, gender non-conforming, and nonbinary (TGNCNB) people.
In May, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed a bill that makes it a felony for health care workers to provide children with gender-affirming therapy. State bills around the country, like the ones in Oklahoma, seek to ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth – and sometimes for transgender adults – and some establish criminal penalties for providing such care. Twenty- three states have passed laws attacking gender-affirming care.
During conversations with my sister, she shared with me the very real fear that a place like Oklahoma could criminalize parents or providers for offering gender-affirming care. She fears for the safety of her family and her child. She worries about whether her child could be taken away from her, or if the lifesaving care my niece is receiving could disappear in the state she currently lives.
Knowing that New York will be an access state for gender-affirming care in the face of other states’ relentless attacks is a great source of comfort.
For these reasons, my sister and her family believe Oklahoma is not a safe place for their child. I will be helping them move to New York in the next year, where we know it will be safer for them. This is especially true because New York lawmakers recently passed – and Gov. Hochul signed – a law that will make our state a beacon for access to gender-affirming care.
The law, sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal and Assembly Member Harry Bronson, sends a clear message that New York will not participate in other states’ attempts to stigmatize and punish gender-affirming care providers, patients, family members, or those who support them.
Specifically, the new law will prevent providers from having their New York medical licenses revoked and it will forbid New York medical malpractice insurers from jacking up rates or taking other adverse action against them. It will also prevent New York law enforcement from cooperating with another state’s investigation against providers, patients, family members, and those who support them.
Critically, the law ensures that supportive parents who help their child obtain gender-affirming care will not be charged with child abuse in New York State.
I am deeply grateful to New York lawmakers for moving this legislation forward and creating a space for my niece to thrive. Knowing that New York will be an access state for gender-affirming care in the face of other states’ relentless attacks is a great source of comfort.
Now that we’ve passed this historic law, my family, as well as the families of other TGNCNB young people, can come to our state and safely receive the lifesaving care they need to be their most authentic selves.